It is simply weird, how life turns out. I moved in to take care of my mother five years ago, and for the last two years it has been intensely difficult. She lost her ability to stand or walk unaided, and thus I had to lift her from bed to the wheelchair, take her to the bathroom, cook her meals and try to keep her occupied. Her dementia became so acute that she was never silent, always making peculiar humming sounds, or shouting abuse, or calling for help. It became impossible to concentrate on writing, because every time I vanished in order to do some work, mom would freak out and begin shouting for me, or yelling things. She no longer knew that she was home, kept telling all of us, "I want to go home, take me home." We decided that it was time to place mother into assisted living, and my niece discovered a wonderful place far away. Part of me was so worn out with all of her noise and dementia, that I kept longing to be alone in the house, aching for silence and solitude.
Oscar Wilde said, "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." We know we did the "right" thing, she is getting excellent 24-hour care and the home she is in is beautiful. The staff is brilliant. My niece lives ten minutes away and visits mom always. But it seems that the moment we place mom into the facility, a part of her "gave up." She is now amazingly weaker, rarely lifts her head up to acknowledge that any of us are there, speaks always in a whisper and most of what she says is quite confused. Visiting her in this state is difficult and depressing, and yet we feel a keen need to be with her, hoping that some part of her realizes that we are still there for her, that we haven't abandoned her.
I now exist in the condition for which I ached--silence and solitude, that I wanted so very much. I hate it. The house is too quiet, too lonesome. I don't know how to live, what to do with all of my time. I miss my mother, and part of my brain still listens for her weird sounds, her calls to go to the bathroom, her weeping and wailing. My brain has trained itself to never let me fall too solidly asleep, to always be listening for the calls from the room next to mine. I'm no longer living on mom's monthly money, with which I bought groceries and paid bills, and it's becoming obvious that I probably need to set the writing of books aside (they don't pay the bills) and seek full-time employment. Being an old queen, over sixty and with a bad heart, doesn't make me optimistic about employment opportunities. I'm feeling lost.
I know I am extraordinarily lucky to be able to live in this house, the home my father had built when I was 5 and 1/2. I bought a new desk and two huge bookcases, and my buddy Nick came over and assembled the desk, which I've put in mom's old bedroom. Having that room empty was a source of depression, but having the desk up has transformed the room and given it function.
I hate that mother is so far away. The gloom and sadness of missing her has me so down that writing is difficult, as much so as when she was here making her weird noises. It will probably be the best thing for me, to find at least a part-time job, even if it means that I no longer have the time or energy to write books. One of the reasons I've been writing like a madman these past three years, producing book after book, is because I sensed the time would come when I had to return to real employment and set the writing aside for a few years. So, it's cool if I have to slow down or stop the book production, I've produced too much of late.
The American Library Association is having a big convention here in Seattle this week-end, so on Sunday I am meeting a bunch of HWA locals for din-din. Ellen Datlow will be in town, and I'll get to meet local horror writers I am unacquainted with. Coolness. And I get to hang-out with Sunni and Jason Brock and S. T. Joshi and William F. Nolan. That should perk me up a bit.
It's so quiet, and the ringing in my ears seems amplified. I share with Barbra Streisand the affliction of something called chronic tinnitus, a constant, never-ending ringing in the ears. Often it's dulled and barely noticeable, but at times--like to-night--it is extremely loud and high-pitched and drives you crazy. It makes me mutter those lines from Poe ~~